Today, the US Senate lost another rising star.

Barack Obama was only the fifth African-American to serve in the US Senate. During Reconstruction, Hiram Rhodes Revels (1870-1871) and Blanche Bruce (1875-1881) helped pave a path for him and other future African-American Presidents. More recently, Edward Brooke (1967-1979) and Carol Moseley Braun (1993-1999) also opened doors for him.

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Hiram Rhodes Revels--a moderate Republican minister who stumbled across politics as an educator-- lead two African-American regiments during the Civil War and founded a school for freedmen in St. Louis before serving in political office. In 1854, prior to risking his life for his country, he was imprisoned for "preaching to the black community." He was sent to the US Senate by the state of Mississippi in 1870 after serving in the state legislature. While in the US Senate, he spoke out strongly against racial injustice.

Upon Revels' admission to the Senate, Republican Senator Charles Sumner said this:

All men are created equal, says the great Declaration and now a great act attests this verity. Today we make the Declaration a reality.... The Declaration was only half established by Independence. The greatest duty remained behind. In assuring the equal rights of all we complete the work.

Another Senator, James Nye of Nevada, also remarked on the historical significance of Hiram Rhodes Revels' accomplishment:

Jefferson Davis went out to establish a government whose cornerstone should be the oppression and perpetual enslavement of a race because their skin differed in color from his. Sir, what a magnificent spectacle of retributive justice is witnessed here today! In the place of that proud, defiant man, who marched out to trample under foot the Constitution and the laws of the country he had sworn to support, comes back one of that humble race whom he would have enslaved forever to take and occupy his seat upon this floor.

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Blanch K. Bruce, who was born into slavery to become a county tax assessor and sheriff, was sent to the US Senate in 1874, where he was the first African American Senator to serve a full term (1875-1881). He was only 32. Sadly, the KKK's rise in the Mississippi sparked repression and violence in the state to a level that deterred Blanch K. Bruce from serving a second term.

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In modern times, Edward William Brooke became the first African American to be elected to the US Senate by popular vote (1966), where he served two terms. He was also the first African American to serve in the US Senate since Blanch K. Bruce and would remain the only US Senator to serve there until Carol Moseley Braun. While there, he became a leading proponent of housing rights and paved the way for the Equal Credit Act, "which ensured married women a right to credit of their own." In 2004, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was the last Republican sent to the Senate by the state of Massachusetts.

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Carol Elizabeth Moseley Braun was elected to the US Senate in 1993 after serving after serving in the Illinois House of Representatives. To date, she is the only African-American woman to serve in the US Senate. As a Senator, she fought for education, civil rights and government reform. She was also a strong opponent of the death penalty.

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Today, Barack Obama ends a short but prolific Senate career to serve as the next President of the United States. On his path to the US Senate, where he served admirably until his nation called him to a higher service, Barack Obama became the first African-American President of the Harvard Law Review, a warrior for the American worker and a remarkable State Senator for Illinois.

Although he leaves a glaring and gaping vacancy in the US Senate, his historic journey, like those that preceded it, has knocked down barriers for future Hiram Rhodes Revels, Blanche Bruces, Edward Brookes, Carol Moseley Brauns and Barack Obamas.

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Please see Deoliver47's background, posted on dailykos, of the controversy surrounding Revels' admission to the Senate.

Tags: African American History, Barack Obama, Blanche Bruce, carol moseley braun, civil war, Edward Brookes, Hiram Rhodes Revel, reconstruction, US Senate (all tags)

Comments

14 Comments

Actually Carol Mosley-Braun would be a nice

replacement for Obama as Il senator.

by ann0nymous 2008-11-16 04:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Actually Carol Mosley-Braun would be a nice

Not really...  I'm guessing you either don't know her record in the Senate OR are forgetting some of the things she did...

Among the reasons she lost re-election...  

She defended the record of Nigerian dictator, Sani Abacha

Compared George Will to a KKK member after an article in which he talked about some of the corruption charges swirling around her... She said he wanted to use the N-word and couldn't and instead used corrupt.   Now, I'm not a George Will fan, but that was MESSED UP.

Lets not forget the missing $250,000 dollars in missing campaign funds that she claimed was a "bookkeeping error".  

She voted for NAFTA.

She voted for the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act.

She voted for Yucca Mountain.

She voted for the Telecommunications Act in 1996.

There are a lot of better choices out there.    I'd much rather see Jessie Jackson Jr or Lisa Madigan in the role than Braun.

by yitbos96bb 2008-11-16 05:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Actually Carol Mosley-Braun would be a nice

She also had a shady boyfriend working in her campaign who allegedly sexually harrassed other (female) campaign workers. She attacked campaign workers who complained about his behavior.

Controversy has trailed Moseley-Braun since the latter stages of her campaign. The most damaging incidents all seem to involve her boyfriend and campaign manager, Kgosie Matthews. In an exuberant victory speech two months ago, Moseley-Braun dubbed Matthews her "knight in shining armor." Many of her staffers, however, took a dimmer view of his autocratic and often arbitrary behavior. After the election, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that two women staffers had anonymously accused Matthews of sexual harassment during the campaign. Moseley-Braun said an internal investigation-headed by a friend and contributor-concluded the charges were "groundless," and she refused to take further action unless the women came forth publicly. Meanwhile, political pros continue to express surprise about the candidate's decision to pay the inexperienced Matthews $15,000 a month for his campaign work-more than most veteran managers earned.

http://www.newsweek.com/id/115982

And there was the matter of some property being put in her mother's name.

http://www.slate.com/id/2078924/

She was awful.

by Bush Bites 2008-11-16 06:24AM | 0 recs
Re: rising star

Obama's rising star has risen to the top and in the process expanded the perspective and outlook for all minorities. America has finally, concretely made good on it's promise of equal opportunity for any among them who had good reason to doubt that it would, or could. I can't help but to believe this election has been an empowering experience for them. Coupled with the fact that minorities are the fastest growing segment of society, and I think we've seen the manner in which things have historically operated in this country permanently change overnight. 'Yes we can' has moved beyond an ardent hope to realized fact, opening the floodgates for a whole host of potential rising stars to follow in the footsteps of these five distinguished senatorial predecessors. Very fine article Bob, thank you.

by phoenixdreamz 2008-11-16 04:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Today, the US Senate lost another rising star.

Of all minorities, African Americans have had the biggest hurdle to overcome in terms of public perception because they are the only group who began in this country as slaves.

When I was a little girl (in Canada) my mother told me that Protestants, who were in the majority in the U.S., would not accept slavery for religious reasons.  In order for slavery to be allowed, they had to be convinced that the Africans were something less than people.  That sales effort was successful but has caused ongoing racism passed down through the generations, particularly in the slave-owning states.

I'm not a historian or particularly religious but her explanation made sense to me.  Over the generations, the origin of a belief gets lost but the belief (or a mutated version) lingers on.  I sure hope it's finally dying.

by GFORD 2008-11-16 05:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Today, the US Senate lost another rising star.

And so we can conclude, the best replacement for Obama in the Senate would be another AfroAmerican, hopefully a candidate of similar politics, albeit a bit more upscale regarding liberal issues. Obama staked out a position that might appeal to all Americans, leaning as we saw toward the center as a presidential candidate.

A senatorial appointee need not be so timid about his/her liberalism.

by MainStreet 2008-11-16 09:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Today, the US Senate lost another rising star.

Jesse Jackson Junior wants it.

And the African American paper in Chicago--Daily Southtown--is pushing for JJJ to get it.

by Bush Bites 2008-11-18 03:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Today, the US Senate lost another rising star.

Great Diary! Still hoping for Dan Seals. Or Tammy Duckworth.

by Jeter 2008-11-16 10:53AM | 0 recs
a "rising" star?

try more like a risen star

by Lakrosse 2008-11-16 02:23PM | 0 recs
by Sandwich Repairman 2008-11-16 03:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Who might Blago replace Obama with?

They didn't mention Rep. Danny Davis, who also apparently wants it.

(He's a little on the old side, tho, so I don't really see it unless they want to put in a place holder.)

by Bush Bites 2008-11-18 03:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Who might Blago replace Obama with?

He was a late entrant to this race.

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-11-18 11:16AM | 0 recs
What's wrong with this country?

Why can't this country keep its noble black politicians like Barack Obama in the Senate?

If this country wasn't so racist, we'd have voted to keep Obama in the Senate.

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:P

by Dracomicron 2008-11-17 04:40AM | 0 recs
What does this mean?

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???

by kevin22262 2008-11-17 06:24AM | 0 recs

Diaries

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